Month: September 2019

Counterpoint: What about freedom to choose your care?

From atop the lecterns at the Democratic presidential debates and the White House, a common trope is dismantling and rejiggering how health care is delivered in America.

For those on the left, the emphasis is on expanding who can access government-backed health insurance programs while cutting off the role of the private sector. And on the right, President Donald Trump is looking to import drugs and pharmaceutical price controls from abroad.

Missing in both of these visions is the essential component that governs every other sector of the economy: the freedom to choose.

Much like housing, transportation and education, it’s clear that the entire health care sector needs disruption. We need some out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and on-demand delivery that will bring costs down for ordinary people.

It’s this formula that has empowered millions to rise out of poverty, make a decent living for their families, and expand consumer choice to makes their lives better.

But both the Democrats and Trump are leading Americans astray on what really matters when it comes to health care.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have serious proposals to totally ban the private health care market in favor of a “Medicare for All” system. That means every American would be thrown into the government insurance program reserved for our seniors.

All administration, billing, reimbursement claims and hospital contracts for more than 350 million people would be handled by the federal government. For a country as unique, diverse and large as the United States, this just couldn’t be carried out effectively.

Such plans would make it illegal for Americans to choose the type of health care coverage that fit them best, depriving them of fundamental choices.

Many younger working people don’t have comprehensive insurance because it doesn’t make economic sense. They would rather pay out of pocket for small expenses and use high-deductible disaster insurance when necessary.

For the 8.8 percent of Americans without health insurance, would they benefit from a mass reorganization of the system that would offer the care reserved for our seniors if the cost comes in the form of higher taxes and less consumer choice?

The same applies to Trump’s well-intended but flawed plans on importing drugs from single-payer systems around the world.

The reason pharmaceutical drugs are more expensive has more to do with subsidies than cost. Most drugs are born from innovative American firms but are subsidized greatly or negotiated for lower rates by governments who import them.

Firms can afford this because it’s offset by American prices, meaning the rest of the world is free-riding on American innovation and intellectual property.

They achieve this by reducing access and choice. It’s no secret that the lion’s share of pharmaceutical drugs are available in the United States while they’re unavailable in the countries that refuse to pay for them. So yes, the prices of drugs may be cheaper in Canada or Norway, but the supply and choices are lacking.

Do we want fewer choices of drugs for lower costs or more choices and prices at market rate?

What matters most when it comes to our personal health is the freedom to choose. Whether it is our doctor, insurance program or drugs we buy, Americans want to be able to pick what works best from them.

Grandiose plans that seek to completely reorganize how many taxes we pay and how we receive care would severely restrict that.

Originally published here.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

Green Activists Hate Trump More Than They Love Animals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just made history by announcing a plan to end wasteful taxpayer-funded animal testing by 2035. This is a huge win, but regulation-happy green groups criticizing the move have made clear that they hate the Trump administration more than they love animals and the environment.

Upon its release, the EPA’s landmark proposal was welcomed by animal-loving taxpayer advocates like us, as well as industry leaders, animal advocates, and scientists because it will eliminate wasteful and misleading animal tests that reduce consumer access to safe products, cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually, handcuff industry, and needlessly harm animals. The news even united lawmakers at far opposite ends of the political spectrum like Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen who worked together with White Coat Waste Project to expose the EPA’s animal tests last year.

Bloomberg’s Adam Allington tweeted, “In a rare moment of accord, the Trump EPA has done something many progressives can get behind — Setting a fairly ambitious plan to phase out chemical testing on animals.”

But not all progressives are cheering. In response to the EPA’s announcement, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) voiced partisan outrage, alleging: “Trump Administration Guts Collection of Data on Toxic Chemicals.” NRDC alleges that without animal studies, it would be “much harder to identify toxic chemicals — and protect human health.” How so?

Animal testing represents the dark-ages of regulatory policy. It was more relevant when our tools to measure risk were primitive, but today’s technology allows much more precise ways to evaluate real-world risks. Researchers have repeatedly shown that 21st century technologies based on human biology — not crude and contrived tests in which rabbits, dogs and other animals are forced to swallow and breathe massive doses of chemicals — are best at predicting health effects in humans. Because of the inherent uncertainty of extrapolating from results on animals to humans, it is necessary to build in huge safety factors for human exposure.

But now, with more accurate scientific methods, we no longer need to rely on animal studies and the precautionary regulatory limits we had to accept a generation ago. Better precision will allow us to safely benefit from advanced chemistry such as the use of silicones which are essential to environmentally-friendly technologies such as modern energy-efficient lighting.

So why would environmental activists, who we’d think have an affinity towards animals, be up in arms over the move? We have a theory.

It’s that these activists are so hell-bent on banning synthetic chemicals that they are willing to support outmoded risk analysis tools to achieve their political agenda, even if it requires torturing animals.

An NRDC staffer told reporters about the modern non-animal tests, “If the tests themselves are not indicating a toxic effect, then EPA is presuming there is no toxic effect.” So, even though these new technologies are more accurate at predicting human risks, the greens apparently prefer the animal tests precisely because of the uncertainty they introduce, which can delay or prevent safe products from coming to market.

Last year, based on misleading animal testing, a California judge ordered Starbucks and other coffee sellers in the state to put cancer warnings on coffee. But it turned out the results were irrelevant to humans, for whom normal amounts of coffee consumption is safe, and the warning was called off.

Warning about a product when risks are not well-understood is prudent. But it would be absurd to continue to warn after the best science tells us there’s nothing to worry about, like in the case of 1,000 studies showing coffee is safe for humans and actually has health benefits. That’s exactly what environmentalists want.

Why? They have an extreme agenda that seeks to eliminate as many synthetic chemicals as possible based on an unscientific view that synthetic chemicals are killing the earth. So to gain broader public support, they’ve long feasted on uncertainty about human health allegations to build support for their anti-chemical ideology. But with better regulatory science now available, the ploy is no longer viable.

The move should please just about everyone except for extremists. A 2018 national poll found that 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats want to cut EPA’s animal testing.

Scientific innovation, appropriate regulation and bold leadership can resolve some of the world’s most intractable problems — and advance a more civil society at the same time.

Opposition to the EPA’s embrace of better regulatory science exposes the true colors of the radical green groups: they are willing to needlessly sacrifice not only animals, but scientific advances themselves, in order to achieve their narrow agenda.

Originally published here.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

The Consumer Choice Center talked with Vicki McKenna about the “Don’t Vape” hearing

Washington D.C – Our Senior Fellow Jeff Stier sat down with Vicki McKenna for a quick chat about #Vaping, her recent testimony for the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing, and how she became a public health hero for the harm-reduction campaign.

For more facts on vaping, read our research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

Govt shouldn’t help Thomas Cook casualties: opinion

Don’t put ordinary consumers on the hook for flying back Thomas Cook holidayers

On Monday, the travel company Thomas Cook announced it would cease operations immediately after it was unable to raise enough money to pay off its debts. This has left hundreds of thousands of travelers without return flights from their holiday destinations.

As a response, several politicians in the U.K. called for government aid to Thomas Cook, and the government has been called to intervene and help out stranded travelers.

Fred Roeder, London-based Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center, responded by stating that an intervention by the government would be the wrong direction to take.

“It is sad to see a legacy travel company such as Thomas Cook to go under,” said Roeder. “But many politicians want to show their support to stranded travelers by flying them home on taxpayers’ dime.

“While it is very unfortunate to be stranded at the end of a holiday, one should ask why taxpayers should pay for tourists who didn’t buy insolvency or travel insurance? 

“Why should those who stayed home because they either didn’t have the money or time for holidays bail out those who went for a holiday trip but didn’t want to spend the extra few pounds for insurance? This is effectively is the scenario that ordinary British consumers and taxpayers are faced with,” said Roeder.

Read more here

Zölle schaden Ihrer Gesundheit

In New York tritt vom 17. bis zum 30. September zum 74. Mal die Weltgemeinschaft zusammen, um dringende Fragen zu diskutieren. Die Vollversammlung der Vereinten Nationen befasst sich nicht nur mit der Frage, wie die Waldbrände im Amazonas zu löschen wären, oder wie die Nachhaltigkeitsziele erreicht werden können. Die Delegierten fragen sich auch, wie in ärmeren Staaten die Gesundheitsversorgung verbessert werden kann. Dazu haben sie die Bekämpfung nichtübertragbarer Krankheiten und den umfassenden Zugang zu Gesundheitsleistungen auf die Tagesordnung gesetzt. In Schwellen- und Entwicklungsländern warten Patienten bis zu zehn Jahre auf ein neues Medikament und zahlen häufig auch noch das Dreifache des eigentlichen Importpreises.

In beiden Feldern ist der Rückstand auf die 35 reichsten Länder enorm. Patienten in ärmeren Ländern müssen häufig ihre Behandlungskosten selbst zahlen. Die Entwicklungshilfe, deren Milliarden seit Jahrzehnten auch in die Gesundheitsversorgung fließen, hat an diesem grundlegenden Missstand kaum etwas geändert. Die Förderprogramme scheitern an Korruption, Misswirtschaft und fehlender Infrastruktur.

Mit einigen einfachen und wirksamen Instrumenten kann die Weltgemeinschaft die Gesundheitsversorgung weltweit deutlich verbessern. Wenn Regierungen weltweit Einfuhrzölle und andere protektionistische Maßnahmen gegen lebensrettende Medikamente reduzieren, machen sie diese für die Ärmsten der Welt deutlich erschwinglicher.

Dort wo Krankenversicherungen nur unzureichend ausgebaut sind – wenn sie überhaupt existieren – müssen Patienten und ihre Familien die Kosten einer Krankheit allein bestreiten. Der Fiskus zockt sie dabei auch noch ab, indem er oft hohe Einfuhrzölle und Verbrauchssteuern auf innovative ausländische Medikamente erhebt. Indien beispielsweise erhebt einen zehnprozentigen Einfuhrzoll auf importierte Medikamente. Damit nicht genug. Der indische Staat hält noch einmal die Hand auf und verlangt von seinen Bürgern bis zu 18 Prozent zusätzliche Mehrwertsteuer auf ihre Arznei. Im benachbarten Nepal zahlen Patienten sogar fast 15 Prozent Einfuhrzoll auf Medikamente. Die Zölle und Sondersteuern sorgen dafür, dass den Ärmsten der Welt unnötig der bezahlbare Zugang zu lebensrettenden Gesundheitsleistungen versperrt ist. Wer ein Medikament nicht mehr bezahlen kann, weil es durch den Staat massiv verteuert wurde, muss an anderer Stelle verzichten – oder die Behandlung ganz bleiben lassen. Die gierige Bürokratie stellt Patienten vor eine teuflische Wahl: Ruin oder – potenziell tödliche – Krankheit.

In Indien 4.000 Bestimmungen zur Einfuhr von Medikamenten!

Der Ökonom Matthias Bauer hat errechnet, dass chinesische Patienten 5,5 Milliarden Euro sparen würden, wenn die Zollschranken gegen importierte Medikamente fielen. In Indien und Brasilien würde Freihandel die Medikamentenpreise nahezu halbieren.

Zusätzliche Steuern und Auflagen verursachen in Brasilien, Kenia und weiteren Staaten eine Verdoppelung – mitunter gar eine Verdreifachung! – des Endkundenpreises gegenüber dem eigentlichen Einfuhrpreis. Diese Steuern treffen die Armen der Welt am härtesten. Ihre Abschaffung macht eine würdige und angemessene Gesundheitsversorgung für hunderte Millionen Menschen deutlich erschwinglicher.

Doch nicht nur Zölle und Steuern verteuern die Medizin im Bestimmungsland. Langwierige Einfuhrprozesse, Etikettiervorschriften und missverständliche Bestimmungen erhöhen den Endpreis. Derlei Vorschriften nützen sicherlich den Zollbehörden, um ihre Budgets zu rechtfertigen. Diese bürokratischen Hürden schaden letztendlich den Patienten und treiben die Preise wichtiger Medikamente. 

Indien allein kennt beinahe 4.000 Vorschriften und Lizenzbestimmungen zur Einfuhr und dem Vertrieb von Medikamenten! Jeder Importeur muss sich diesen Regelungen beugen und die dadurch entstandenen Kosten auf den Preis für Endkunden aufschlagen. In Russland und der Türkei halten Regierungen die Patienten an, heimisch produzierte Medikamente zu kaufen und erschweren den Zugang zu ausländischen Produkten. So wird das Patientenwohl politisch-wirtschaftlichen Interessen untergeordnet. 

Und selbst wenn Patienten sich die Medikamente leisten könnten, sind diese häufig nicht verfügbar. Neue Arzneimittel erreichen diese Länder oft erst nach Jahren. Die lokalen Behörden verzögern die Anmeldung von Patenten und weiteren Rechten durch langwierige Prozesse. In Thailand dauert es 14 Jahre, ein Patent zu erteilen – 14 Jahre, in denen Patienten auf die Therapie warten, leiden und schlimmstenfalls sterben. Mit dem erteilten Patent ist das Warten aber längst nicht vorbei, denn dann geht es an die Verkaufsfreigabe.

Sieben Jahre bis zur Medikamenten-Freigabe

Es dauert lange bevor die einzelnen Länder Medikamente zum Verkauf freigeben: in China drei, in vielen afrikanischen Staaten zwischen vier und sieben Jahren. Die Aufsichtsbehörden in Entwicklungsländern wären gut beraten, sich auf die fundierten Zulassungsentscheidungen der amerikanischen FDA oder der europäischen Zulassungsbehörde EMA zu verlassen und auf einen erneuten Zulassungsprozess zu verzichten. Das käme den Patienten zugute, die nicht mehr jahrelang auf diese oft lebensrettenden Medikamente warten müssten.

Eines sollte den Delegationen bei der UN-Vollversammlung klar sein: Zölle und Vorschriften können sie einseitig und schnell abschaffen und verschlanken. Das ist in der Regel ein einseitiger Schritt des jeweiligen Landes, der besonders Entwicklungsländer bei den gesundheitsspezifischen Nachhaltigkeitszielen deutlich voranbringt. Schnellere Zulassungsverfahren und erleichterte Einfuhrbestimmungen senken den Leidens- und Preisdruck auf Patienten weiter.

Selten hat ein trockenes Thema wie Bürokratieabbau so weitreichende Folgen für große Teile der Weltbevölkerung. Zölle schaden Ihrer Gesundheit, es ist höchste Zeit für den kalten Entzug.

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As vape panic roils, flurry of lawsuits against Juul has begun

Inhale vapor. Exhale cash. 

The health risks around vaping are so unknown, and there is so much money in the pockets of e-cigarette makers like Juul lawyers are greasing up their hands for the reach-in. 

Here are some e-cig lawsuits already filed: 

A Kansas dude who says he goes through five pods a week.

A Connecticut man who says false advertising led him to start using Juuls, which he says cause him chest pain. 

A New Jersey dad who bought Juuls for his 14-year-old son, who now coughs and vomits

Dozens of lawsuits, all against Juul. Many of these lawsuits say that Juul’s happy, slick ads misled them into thinking Juuls were safe, when in fact they’ve lead to health problems. 

The concequenses of vaping are unclear at this point, and it may be decades before we know actual long-term effects. Scientists are studying links between vaping and lung diesase, seizure and addiction. 

Originally published here.

For more facts about vaping, read our Research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know

Public security must be a priority in Europe’s 5G rollout

A national assessment of the risks associated with the next generation of communications infrastructure is the first step toward an EU-wide cyber-security strategy.

The European Commission’s incoming president, Ursula von Der Leyen, will have a series of politically delicate hurdles to contend with in the field of cyber security when she assumes office on 1 November 2019.

Not least is the domain of 5G communications, where the EU has come under increased pressure from its American counterparts to adopt a hostile position against next-generation technologies emanating from Asia-based companies.

Following a Commission recommendation for a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks, member states have recently submitted national risk assessments that provide an overview of their most pressing concerns in the future development of 5G infrastructure. These will feed into the next phase, an EU-wide risk assessment to be completed by 1 October 2019, which the Commission says will be the first step toward implementing a real cyber-security strategy across the EU.

Is this so important for ordinary users and consumers? It’s not so long ago that we heard the news about vendors from illiberal countries being involved in scandals such as the backdoors in Vodafone Italia’s fibre network provided by Huawei. As we move to a society where connected devices are part of daily life, from smart lights to smart home locks to connected cars, the privacy and security of the network will be central to everyday life.

According to research by analysts Berg Insight, there were a total of 22.5 million smart homes in Europe at the end of 2017. This number is predicted to grow to 84 million homes by the end of 2022, representing a market penetration of 35 per cent. Add to this an estimated 45 million smart homes in the United States at the end of 2017.

Consumers want to be able to rely on their network provider to keep what happens inside their smart buildings private and stored securely. For this reason, security must be a defining feature of the standards and norms that govern the global ICT supply chain, as well as the individual pieces of software and hardware that businesses and consumers depend on. Inaction risks undermining the ability of businesses and individuals to exercise meaningful choice in critical 5G and other ICT products and services.

Some of the EU’s largest member states, including Germany and Italy, have used the auctions of spectrum licenses as a cash cow for their national budgets instead of seeing newly utilised frequencies as a gamechanger for consumer connectivity. This has led to the undesired consequence that many operators are cash-strapped and tend to go for cheaper and less trustworthy infrastructure providers. The result is a toxic reliance on very few suppliers, some of whom are accused of operating with questionable motives.

If the next Commission wants to successfully secure the digital ecosystem, it has to coordinate technical standards for interoperability, such as the more trustworthy open-source solutions, and promote an environment based on transparency and trust to make sure national governments will implement liability rules for operators and resellers of software and devices that expose consumers to the risk of malicious and illegal interference. This is the only way to protect consumers, promote innovation and foster safe digital lives for consumers.

Luca Bertoletti is senior European affairs manager at consumer advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published here

Massachusetts Bans All Vaping Products

At a press conference on Tuesday, Massachusetts Governor Baker said that he is banning all vaping products in the state until Jan 25, 2020. Across the country, consumers have reported vaping-related illnesses. 530 people said they have have been affected, and nine people have died. Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health said this month that all physicians must report any vaping-related pulmonary disease to the department, and the state is now tallying 61 possible cases.

Mission Dispensaries, has two current locations in Massachusetts (Georgetown and Worcester) and a third coming soon. The company’s Kris Krane, President of 4Front Ventures, which owns the dispensaries said, “The governor’s decision to ban the sale of vape products in Massachusetts is an unfortunate reaction to a genuine public health concern. Evidence suggests the overwhelming majority of vape-related illnesses have resulted from the use of unlicensed and unregulated vape cartridges obtained from the illicit market. Though he may have the best intentions, banning the sale of legal vape products produced in a heavily regulated industry will only serve to drive consumers and medical patients to the illicit market, possibly exacerbating these public health concerns rather than alleviating them. We stand behind our products and are confident the legal and highly regulated market is capable of protecting consumers.”

Many feel that banning all vape products is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Most of the illnesses have resulted from consumers using non-regulated and black market products.

“While the life-saving potential of nicotine vaping devices has been recognized by many public health authorities, several recent high-profile hospitalizations and illnesses have put vaping on trial, inviting scrutiny and calls for outright bans on the technology,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center. “Contrary to the sensationalistic media reports, adults who use vaping and e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking are vastly improving their chances of living long, healthy, and productive lives”.

Read more here.

Should I Stop Vaping?

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a surge of headlines that say vaping may be more harmful than we might have initially thought. Seven deaths have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes. In response, some states have banned vaping products. However, naysayers — including experts — argue that a knee-jerk reaction by health agencies is premature, overlooks the harm reduction that vaping achieves, and could cause a potential public health disaster

If smoking is the de facto predecessor of vaping, then e-cigarettes should be examined within the context of nicotine delivery systems as a whole. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Should the risk associated with vaping be a deterrent when the alternative is smoking cigarettes?

Some in the recovery community say that it shouldn’t. Many former cigarette smokers have replaced their “analog” smokes with e-cigarettes, using vaping as a means of harm reduction that swaps out cancer-causing tobacco with a safer means of nicotine delivery. Recovery purists and some clinicians, however, argue that smokers are trading one addiction for another and express concerns that, lower risk or not, most vapers are still ingesting large amounts of highly addictive nicotine. They also point to this recent rash of deaths as evidence against vaping.

Before we address the question of harm reduction, though, do the alarming headlines have any merit in science? And given that e-cigarettes have been around for 15 years, why are we only seeing deaths now?


The American Medical Association (AMA) recently labeled vaping “an urgent public health epidemic,” and physicians have urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act. The AMA claims that research has shown that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products is unsafe and causes addiction, however the statement does not provide the supporting research. The AMA also says they “applaud steps to remove flavored e-cigarette products from the market.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that together with the FDA, local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners, they are investigating a multi-state outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette products. The FDA echoed the CDC’s concern, calling the outbreak “a frightening public health phenomenon.”

Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who is leading the CDC’s investigation, said in a statement, “The recent rise of acute lung illnesses linked to vaping has deepened concerns about the safety of the devices.” 

But why now? People have been vaping for over a decade. The CDC’s Meaney-Delman says, “We’re all wondering if this is new or just newly recognized.”

Here’s what we know: As of this writing (9/21/19), the CDC states that 530 cases of lung illness have been reported from 38 states, and seven deaths have been attributed to vaping. Most affected patients also reported a history of using vaping products that contain THC. 

The CDC does not yet know the specific causes of these illnesses: “The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping products (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.” Regardless, for those who are concerned with these issues, the CDC recommends refraining from using all vaping or e-cigarette products until they know more.

Elsewhere on the website, the CDC still states that e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers as a substitute for regular cigarettes.


Because of the media coverage and caution by public health agencies, we are seeing increasing action across the US: New York’s former mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, has committed $160 million to ban flavored e-cigarettes, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to ban the sale of flavored vaping products in Michigan, San Francisco has banned the sale of e-cigarettes, and President Donald Trump says the FDA will ban flavored e-cigarettes. 

Is this a knee-jerk reaction? It seems that some of the pressure is a result of parents and politicians who are concerned that flavored vaping products are responsible for the surge in teen use. That’s understandable, given the potential for nicotine to harm the developing brain. According to the CDC, one in five high schoolers and one in 20 middle schoolers vape.

For adults, however, there appears to be conflicting statements by researchers, doctors, and health officials. 

In a September 2019 article, Dr. Robert Shmerling at Harvard echoed the CDC’s bottom line: Experts are unsure if vaping is causing these lung problems, and lung disease has not been linked to a specific brand or flavor of e-cigarette. A more likely culprit, they claim, is a chemical contaminant within the inhaled vapors that is causing an allergic reaction or immune system response. 

This belief is supported by a study that came out last year linking the chemical flavors within e-cigarettes to an adverse effect. Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt, PhD, one of the authors of the study, recently told The Guardian that “the liquids vaporised by e-cigarettes are chemically unstable and form new chemicals that irritate the airways and may have other toxic effects.” These new chemicals are not disclosed by the manufacturers to users. 

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University, claims that health officials and physicians are not telling the full story: In every case in which a specific e-liquid has been identified, that e-liquid has been found to contain THC — a fact corroborated by the CDC. He states that the e-liquids in some of these cases were oil-based and typically purchased off the street; therefore, their ingredients are not strictly regulated. It is these oil-based THC liquids that are known to cause acute respiratory illness. 

Similarly, the Washington Post reported that the FDA investigation found the same vitamin E-derived oil in cannabis products that were used by those found to be suffering vaping-related illnesses throughout the country. 


While Siegel acknowledges we aren’t in a position to draw conclusions about THC oils or to say that street products are definitely to blame, he believes the CDC’s recommendations are unnecessarily broad and consequently harmful, since people who vape may think it’s safer to go back to smoking cigarettes. 

“I cannot overemphasize how insane this policy is,” he says. “From a public health perspective, it makes absolutely no sense to ban these fake cigarettes but to allow the real ones to remain on the shelves.”

Instead, Siegel suggests, the CDC could offer more specific and useful guidance to the public, specifically: Do not vape THC oils (including butane hash oil), do not use any oil-based vaping e-liquid product, and refrain from buying products off the street or using any e-liquid that doesn’t disclose its ingredients. To reduce risk, people should “stick to products being sold at retail stores, especially closed cartridges where there is no risk of contamination or the presence of unknown drugs.”

Switching from smoking tobacco to e-cigarettes is a proven harm reduction strategy supported by health officials and used by individuals in recovery. 

Lara Frazier, a person in long-term recovery, explained, “I am in abstinence-based recovery and quit smoking cigarettes over four years ago, thanks to e-cigarettes.” Regarding the recent deaths associated with vaping, she says: “There is mass hysteria about vaping, with people not being properly educated on what is actually occurring.”

Frazier is concerned about the consequences of recent official warnings: “Nicotine addiction is like any addiction, and banning flavors will likely not result in less nicotine being smoked. This could cause more harm because the teenagers will have to find black-market cartridges, make their own juice, and/or switch to smoking cigarettes.”

She continues, “I think it’s ridiculous that they are going to ban all flavored juices that aren’t tobacco-based on five (now seven) deaths and illness without properly looking at the data or researching the cause of the illness.”


There is world-wide support and evidence for vaping as harm reduction. A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was nearly twice as effective as conventional nicotine replacement products for smoking cessation.

In the UK, Public Health England also supports vaping as a harm reduction strategy. Even in light of the recent concerns, their position has stayed the same: “Our advice on e-cigarettes remains unchanged — vaping isn’t completely risk-free but is far less harmful than smoking tobacco. There is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking rather than switching completely to vaping,” they said.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, urged President Trump to consider the facts before reacting hastily and pushing for a ban, arguing that vaping is a less harmful alternative for consuming nicotine. Ossowski cites a 2016 report by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians, which reviewed the science, public policy, regulation, and ethics surrounding vaping and concluded that e-cigarettes should be promoted widely as a substitute for smoking. The report also sought to clear up misinformation about vaping and long-term harm, stating that while there is a possibility of harm from e-cigarettes, it is unlikely to exceed five percent of that associated with tobacco products. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. We have abundant evidence that smoking leads to disease and disability, harming nearly every organ in the body. It causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also increases the risk for tuberculosis, eye diseases, and autoimmune conditions. 

Worldwide, the use of tobacco products is responsible for more than seven million deaths each year. In the U.S., 480,000 people die every year from smoking, and 41,000 people die as a result of secondhand smoke. Economically, smoking has a huge impact on the United States: it costs $170 billion a year in direct medical care, and $156 million in lost productivity. 

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death. 

At this point, the evidence supports vaping as an effective means of harm reduction, thus outweighing the limited risks. Further, public health officials have yet to complete their investigations into these risks so they can conclusively identify the cause of the deaths attributed to vaping. It seems foolish to enforce blanket bans on e-cigarettes, as that may cause further harm by pushing people toward buying black-market vaping products or resuming smoking cigarettes.

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Sports fans likely to be hit by Thomas Cook’s collapse

We are now working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to assist affected customers and help them to find alternative holidays or organise cancellations and full refunds’.

TUI’s major rival Thomas Cook (TCG.L) collapsed on Monday after it failed to secure the funding it needed to continue trading, leaving more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded overseas.

Around 6,000 passengers who flew with Thomas Cook from Belfast International Airport have been left stranded after the collapse of the travel company.

“If your Thomas Cook flights are not ATOL protected, your flights are now cancelled and you are not entitled to make a claim via the ATOL scheme, but you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank”.

Local travel agents have been busy trying to reorganise holiday plans for clients following today’s shock news about the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The CAA said: “If you are now overseas and your flight was with Thomas Cook we are providing new flights to return you to the UK”.

There are also people needing help who have booked through other travel companies using Thomas Cook flights.

Read more here.

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